Kiosks: The future of retail or a relic of the past?

Mobiquity Inc.
4 min readNov 2, 2021

By: Andrew Capozzi, Mobiquity

The technology and promise of self-serve kiosks has evolved greatly in the past 40 years. No one questioned the important place that kiosks held in the future of retail until COVID-19, but the pandemic literally changed the face of retail and led many to wonder if the era of the touch screen kiosk had come to an end?

Challenges: Touching. So. Much. Touching.

We all remember the run on antibacterial wipes early in the pandemic and swapping stories about the best way to disinfect everything that entered your home. The thought of touching a kiosk screen was a little unnerving to say the least.

Since then, however, we’ve learned a lot including the fact that COVID is much more likely to be transmitted from person to person than from touching a screen . These days, with the right practices, kiosks can be a key tactic in reducing human interaction and making guests feel more comfortable visiting your store.

Kiosk best practices in the post COVID-19 world

When done right, your store can reap the self-service and efficiency gains that retailers enjoyed pre-COVID. A great first step is to have your staff wipe kiosks down during off hours to make sure they remain an appealing stop in your customer’s journey through your store.

One better, make it easy for guests to sanitize the screen and/or their hands before and after use. There’s no shortage of wipe and hand sanitizer stands these days, and placing them near your kiosk is a great way to make sure everyone feels comfortable that they are clean.

Even with these steps, you may need to incentivize less tech savvy guests to try them out. Recent Mobiquity research indicates that older customers are significantly more likely to prefer face to face interactions in a retail setting. Looking specifically at restaurant interactions, while 46% of guests between the ages of 18 and 24 would prefer to order from a kiosk versus a person, that number drops to 16% among people over the age of 55.

The recent adoption of mobile apps, digital banking, and telemedicine proves that people of all ages are capable of trying and becoming advocates of digital technology. Some guests may just need a little extra push — like a coupon, discount, or even (masked) employee nearby should any questions arise.

Taking a page from the Coke Freestyle playbook , it may be worthwhile to consider updates to your kiosk to make it even more touchless. As the resurgence of the QR code has made digital menus much more accessible, a QR code featured prominently on your kiosk interface could enable guests to use their own smartphone to place orders in your system.

Conversely, you may want to make a kiosk or tablet available in situations where guests are expected to use their smartphones. A key use case here includes providing a larger display for guests who may have trouble viewing something as detailed as a menu on their phone’s small screen.

Integrating your kiosk with your full operation

Make sure your kiosk is just one touchpoint in a unified, omni-channel brand experience for your customers. This means making sure your kiosk is integrated with your web, mobile app and POS systems so that regardless of where an order is placed, all systems can help a customer with their needs. This includes making sure that the kiosk can do everything that an employee could do — take payment, reflect currently available items, and specify where to pick up food or other orders.

Additionally, make sure not to forget the important step of employee training. Consider your training plan when you launch any new kiosk functionality and make sure employees are well equipped to help customers with questions or problems.

And like an employee, a kiosk can be a great selling tool. When AI enabled, they can recognize buying patterns and suggest cross-sells and up-sells that guests are more likely to purchase. Even better, they’ll never forget to mention an upcoming promotion or event or encourage a customer to join your rewards program.

Finally, think through how smartphones can integrate with your kiosk. A key consideration is how geotargeting combined with your kiosk could add value to your guests and your operation. One benefit would be enabling the kiosk to recognize the guest and their rewards information when they are near. This could not only save guests the step of looking up their login information but also help point them to favorite items, order history, or remind them about unused benefits.

While technology continues to develop new ways to keep guests safe and serviced efficiently, with the right practices, kiosks should remain a viable tactic for driving great customer experiences and increased satisfaction into the future. If you’re interested in exploring the unique ways kiosks can add value to your business or integrate with your current systems, let’s talk. Mobiquity has helped leading brands revolutionize their businesses with kiosk programs and make sure necessary backend technologies were in place so that a kiosk investment becomes a seamless part of overall operations.

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Mobiquity Inc.

Mobiquity is a digital consultancy that partners with the world’s leading brands to design and deliver compelling digital products and services.